With a week to go before the Olympic track and field trials, Richmond Hill High School grad Shaquille Walker has decided to turn pro, forgoing his last year of college eligibility.
“This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while,” the 800-meter runner said by phone Friday night. “The timing just felt right.”
Walker will join the Brooks Beasts Track Club, sponsored by the Seattle-based athletic shoe and apparel company.
“My wife and I will be moving to Seattle where I’ll continue to train with their team,” he said. “They’ve got everything I need from nutrition experts to post-workout massages.”
Walker said he has seven classes left in his pre-dental program at Brigham Young University and will complete those online.
“BYU has been good for me and I’ve loved my time there,” Walker said. “It’s sort of been like my safe haven, but this (turning pro) is part of the goals and objectives I’ve wanted to accomplish for a long time.”
The deal also allows Walker to seek other endorsement deals.
“You can only have one main shoe sponsor, but there are other opportunities,” he said. “Sports drinks, recovery products, things like that.”
Walker finished third at both the indoor and outdoor NCAA championships in the 800 this year and holds the BYU record in the race at 1:44.99.
While professional track and field has been popular in Europe for several years, Walker said it is starting to pick up traction here. He said he’ll most likely be heading to London after the Olympic trials are done to compete in a few meets.
The trials kick off July 1, with the 800 finals scheduled for July 4. The Summer Olympics run Aug. 5 to Aug. 21.